By Virginia Dean
After an initial delay to the Rutland community of its all-new aircraft, the Tecnam P2012 Traveller, Cape Air airline continues to work on validating policies and procedures for the new prop plane.
“This is typical for a newly certified aircraft,” said Cape Air spokesperson Trish Lorino.
The delay in the Tecnam’s introduction to Rutland is a result of ongoing required training which is typical for a new aircraft type, Cape Air Marketing Director Kelley Collopy explained.
The Hyannis, Massachusetts-based regional carrier is one of two Travellers delivered to Massachusetts last July and, following receipt of FAA certification, Tecnam ferried the aircraft on a three-day journey from its Capua, Italy, factory to Hyannis in September.
The Tecnam is an 11-seat utility aircraft designed and manufactured by the Italian company Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam based in Capua, near Naples, Italy.
In 2009, commuter airline Cape Air asked Tecnam for a new aircraft to succeed its Cessna 402s. In April 2011, the P2012 project was publicly unveiled at AERO Friedrichshafen by Tecnam and Cape Air. The unit cost was $2.7 million. Funding came from private sources and the Italian government.
Currently, routine test flights have been ongoing between Cape Air’s headquarters in Hyannis and Boston’s International Airport, said Collopy.
“Test flights to the Rutland region are also a key piece of required training, pre-launch,” said Collopy. “We anticipate introducing the Tecnam for commuter services in Rutland in early April.”
In November 2015, Cape Air signed a letter of intent to order 100 aircraft. Tecnam aimed for 25 to 35 deliveries in 2019 and more in the following years.
The first prototype of the Tecnam was rolled out in April 2016. It conducted its maiden flight in July 2016. By April 2017, the first prototype was flown more than 100 hours while the second was set to join during September, targeting a December 2018 certification.
Last month, Cape Air began revenue service from Hyannis, Massachusetts to Nantucket Island prior to Hyannis-Boston and Boston-Nantucket run. Cape Air should allocate its first eight aircraft to serve New England from its Massachusetts headquarters including Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Vermont and Maine.
By October 2018, Tecnam had secured 125 orders and is forecasting a demand for 11,500 commuter aircraft over the following 10 years, a Cape Air spokesperson related. Tecnam planned to build 15 units during 2019, increasing to 25 this year and to 35 during 2021.
“The Tecnam was specifically designed for Cape Air for service in the short-haul market,” said Collopy. “It features fixed landing gear, a 46-foot wingspan in high-wing configuration, two 345-hp Lycomng TEO-540-C1A piston engines, and seating for nine passengers and two pilots.”
Maximum speed is 223 miles per hour at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
What passengers will appreciate most includes the aircraft’s speed, expansive views, more leg room and opportunity for under-the-seat storage, Collopy said.
“Overall, the new aircraft offers a better customer experience,” she said, adding that currently Cape Air has flights with its fleet of Cessna 402s between Rutland and Boston, available as low as $69 one-way.
Cape Air is the largest independent regional carrier in the country. The airline has codeshare partnerships with American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines that allow members of the larger carriers’ loyalty programs to easily connect and earn miles on Cape Air flights.